Dubai and Indonesia

Hello English-speaking friends! After about one year and a half I’m back with a new post! A long and thoughtful silence due to the camera that was broken, and, above all, to the fact that I didn’t feel much desire to write. Anyway there was not much to tell, no real exciting journeys, just an emigrant wandering between London, Malaga, then in a ugly Irish city called Cork and finally in the beautiful Malta where I am now. But I’ll tell you about this next time, this time I’ll tell you a short trip to Indonesia done last month.

 

I travelled with an old friend, Tiziano, and before Indonesia we stopped a couple of days in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. A strange city, full of spectacular skyscrapers, many of which probably empty. From what I understand, rather than oil, trade and tourism, it’s a financial center that recycles a lot of money and many of these are reinvested in constructions.

 

Here we are in the marina area, on the Persian Gulf. Most of the skyscrapers are truly beautiful and my favorite is the twisted one! Really brilliant. They were almost all built just in the last 20 years. In this sense, it reminds me Shanghai.

 

And behind a grill: the tallest building in the world, the Burj Khalifa, 829 meters high.

 

Here, instead, we are in the larger mall in the world, the Dubai Mall, which has inside a giant aquarium. Dubai is full of shopping centers, where residents spend much of their free time. In short, a place quite alienating.

 

And here we are in Indonesia, in Jakarta. To visit all Indonesia would take months, being an archipelago of over 17,000 islands, each with its own history, until a recent somewhat artificial unification under one flag. So I’ll tell you just what I saw in my two weeks. Jakarta is ugly and among other things it’s practically impossible to visit because of the traffic, maybe the slowest in the world. After almost an hour in a taxi making just a few hundred meters, we gave up and went back to the hotel.

 

Chess players in Kuta beach, Bali.
At beginning I had planned to visit Yogyakarta after Jakarta to visit the Buddhist temple of Borobudur. But it happened that the Indonesian archipelago seethed with emotion at the news of the arrival of your favorite photographer and writer: the same day I bought the ticket exploded a volcano in the island of Sumatra, in the north-west. A total mess. The day I took the plane, instead, exploded a volcano in Java, where I was going, completely covering of ash that temple, which fortunately was reopened just right before my return.
So I finished first in Bali, that I had already visited many many years ago, back in 1996 during a long trip that also included Australia and South-East Asia. When I was young and full of hope… ehhhhh yes I am a bit ‘on the melancholy these days. I think it’s the job that is killing me! I do online support by email to poker players. A mass of lunatics, I’ll tell you next time.

 

Bali is a sort of Hindu stronghold, while the rest of Indonesia is overwhelmingly Muslim. There are also, in minority, Christians and other religions. Hinduism has absorbed elements from previous animist religions, making it in some sense unique.

 

Kids in a judo school.

 

Football match in Kuta, at sunset.

 

Cat at sunset. Actually Kuta beach is not beautiful, apart from the incredible red sunsets, spectacular and different every night. Even the Balinese come every evening on the beach to contemplate.

 

One of the three Gili islands, which are between Bali and Lombok. Very small, with a fabulous sea. There are no cars and motorbikes, just bicycles and taxi-horse carriages. The classic place to stay for a few days lounging lazily in the sea regardless of the evils of the world.

 

Children fishermen.

 

A food stall.

 

On a boat, going to snorkeling. There is a beautiful coral reef with lots of fish and sea turtles.

 

Family on a scooter in Yogyakarta, in Java island. Unlike Jakarta it has retained many of the cultural and artistic traditions of Java, of which is in a sense the soul. It was the city symbol of resistance to colonialism, especially against Dutch, and it’s currently the only province in Indonesia yet ruled by a sultan.

 

Dancers.

 

The gong of the shadows’ theater , located on the right side of the photo from the back. There is a lamp that casts the shadows of the puppets behind the screen.

 

My friend Tiziano on a rickshaw. We travelled togheter many times, including the first time in Bali.

 

Street sellers.

 

At dawn, in the mist, the Buddhist temple of Borobudur appears in the forest.

 

It was built around 800 A.D. and consists of 10 levels that symbolize a gradual ascent to nirvana. All around is adorned with bas-reliefs whose images depict the life of Buddha and other Buddhist teachings. At higher levels there are dozens of niches with statues of Buddha inside. Seen from above takes the form of a mandala.

 

Going up, I reached the last level and with it, finally, the enlightenment! I wrote it already on facebook with a photo that got 101 “like”, referring to the 101 Zen stories – but now don’t put the 102nd like, please. But, as I said, don’t be afraid, I will not abandon you to your fate disappearing in the nirvana. I’ll keep instead staying with you, as a bodhisattva, helping also you in reaching the enlightenment. Yes, I see it very hard. But never say never!
 

Schoolgirls.

 

Guys.

 

Around Yogyakarta there are also some beautiful Hindu temples. The main complex is called Prambanan, but also all around, in the countryside, you will come across scattered temples, like this.

 

Back to Jakarta. This time since we arrived on Sunday, the traffic was relatively less slow and we could visit it a bit. Here we are in one of the main squares, Kota, where there was the Dutch government building. It’s very alive on Sunday evening.

 

Girls.

 

And there I’m, during a short course in Indonesian cuisine. Better the Italian, I have to say. Recently I’m imporving in cooking, I’ve always done it, as pasta and thigs like that, but now I’m learning also more complex dishes such “parmigiana”, “focaccia” etc… so adding this to other skills of mine, not least the amateur ones, and taking into account that now I have also a discreet income, I can rightfully call myself a great catch! A great catch. I do not say an eligible bachelor because it carries an infinite bad luck.

In the meantime, a photo of mine has been selected by National Geographic as photo of the week!
http://travel.nationalgeographic.com/travel/photo-of-the-week/

Thanks, thanks.

See you then… in a year and a half more or less.

Final destiny: Cuba

Dear readers, this is the last episode of the jouney. I’m already back in Italy since a couple of weeks, and I’ll tell you the last part of the trip: Cuba
About Cuba we could talk for an entire blog, especially from the political point of view. Who loves it, who hate it, who sees it from a perspective, who from another. Who see it as an example of the failure of communism, who of a success of that, since, despite an economic embargo that lasts since decades, the average standard of living is still higher than in neighboring islands like Haiti, Santo Domingo and Jamaica. Also the majority of Mexicans are worse. Embargo imposed by the United States and justified because of the violation of human rights.
In this trip I went through most of South and Central America. The crimes against humanity committed by U.S. directly or indirectly are literally unspeakable, nothing to envy to those Nazis, and they speak of human rights in Cuba, that thanks to the revolution escaped them! We are at the final comic!
Then there is the certainly dramatic problem of the censorship, unacceptable to us used to say everything we think or know. As long as we stay within the limits of what the power wants to be told. Otherwise you better be ready to run inside the Ecuador embassy, because they will always find a girl with whom we fucked without a condom. So, in Cuba there is a ban to transmit. With us there is “permission to transmit and the prohibition to speak.”

I went already to Cuba 15 years ago and has not changed much. The center of Havana is falling to pieces, a large piece of cornice missed me for a couple of meters before disintegrating on the ground. Almost all the food shops are old and usually empty, vegetables are rare, the meat is found only in a few.
The prices between tourists and Cubans are very different, next to a store that sells a pizza for 5 cuc ($5, even at Leicester Square in London don’t dare so much) you find one that sells it for 5 pesos, one-twentieth of a dollar! In some cases, tourists can buy in pesos, in others not. To sleep and eat you can spend a lot or very little, I had a large apartment in the center of Havana, all for me, for just 15 dollars. To get around is quite expensive though.
Yet Havana is magical and unique. On the streets, thre are beautiful big American cars of the 50s, usually still in perfect condition. In the center, people are on the street listening to music, playing dominoes, baseball, football. Always ready to start up a conversation, telling their lives and speaking bad of the government. You are never alone and, despite the poverty, it is not dangerous, unlike almost all the big cities of Central and South America.
In the night people remain in the streets, in front of the house doors. Among the dim lights there are occasionally cocktails bars, some refined, some ugly, where in addition to alcohol they try to sell cigars, viagra, condoms and more. In the weekends they sit on the malecon, the waterfront, drinking and listening to music.

A couple of days after my arrival, I met again Eva, the Slovakian girl who lives in Costa Rica and with whom I had traveled to Panama and later in Nicaragua. After two days in Havana, we went to Vinales, near Pinar del Rio, where there are spectacular landscapes with rocks and cigars and rum is produced.
From there in Trinidad , an old colonial town, with cobbled streets and colorful houses. Very photogenic.

And now the photos.

Central Havana by night.

 

The Malecon, the waterfront.

 

Girl asking me to cook pasta.

 

Havana by night.

 

Hurricane Isaac approaches.

 

Two guys make fun of the sacred myths of the revolution.

 

Girl.

 

Boy.

 

Little girl sleeping in the bogie fruit.

 

Boys dive from the Malecon.

 

Domino players.

 

Just married.

 

A farmer from Vinales.

 

View of Trinidad.

 

Palaces of Trinidad.

 

Colored car.

 

Children.

 

Fidel, as you know, disappeared into thin air, then I speak:
Comrades, stop being catastrophic! The victory is near. The production of sugar cane rose, rum and cigars abound, roll up your sleeves and let’s stop whining! It’s all perfectly fine … ehhhh, wonderfull!!

 

Viva la Revolucion!

 


Map of the trip.
Fast summary. I started on January 17th to Salvador de Bahia in Brazil. I went south to Porto Seguro, then north along the coast to the mouth of the Amazon river in Belem. From there, with a ship I sailed up the river to Manaus where at the beginning of March, I flew to Bogota, Colombia.I first visited the north (Cartagena, Tayrona Park, Lost City etc …), then I went to the south, Medellin, the area cafetera, San Augustin, and on mid April, I arrived to Otavalo, Ecuador. I passed through the Amazon rainforest to the east, until the beach near Guayaquil southwest. Then north again, quickly back in Colombia, up to Capurgana, near the border with Panama, where I arrived in late May by boat through the archipelago of San Blas. I went to the Pacific in Santa Catilina, again in Bocas del Toro on the Atlantic and mid-June I arrived in Costa Rica. Even there I touched both oceans, as well as inland areas of Monteverde and La Fortuna. At the beginning of July I arrived in San Juan in Nicaragua, and from there island Ometepe, Granada and Leon. In mid-July I crossed quickly San Salvador and came to Antigua in Guatemala. I went to the Honduras Maya site of Copan and to Caye Caulker in Belize. Back to Lake Atitlan in Guatemala and from there to the beginning of August in San Cristobal, Mexico. After Oaxaca, I went to the Pacific in Mazunte, and to Cancun on the Atlantic to fly to Cuba.
Seven and a half months, 12 countries, thousands of miles run, no phone, new friends and amazing images that will bounce forever in my mind.

And a selection of photos of the whole journey.

Anyway, I’ll continue to write at this address (www.dekaro.com/blog_en) my future adventures, so stay in touch!

Thanks for following me! Kissessss :-)